The Seventh Story

Tedaldo Elisei, Having Fallen Out With His Mistress, Departeth Florence And Returning Thither, After Awhile, In A Pilgrim's Favour, Speaketh With The Lady And Maketh Her Cognisant Of Her Error; After Which He Delivereth Her Husband, Who Had Been Convicted Of Murdering Him, From Death And Reconciling Him With His Brethren, Thenceforward Discreetly Enjoyeth Himself With His Mistress

Fiammetta being now silent, commended of all, the queen, to lose no time, forthright committed the burden of discourse to Emilia, who began thus: "It pleaseth me to return to our city, whence it pleased the last two speakers to depart, and to show you how a townsman of ours regained his lost mistress.

There was, then, in Florence a noble youth, whose name was Tedaldo Elisei and who, being beyond measure enamoured of a lady called Madam Ermellina, the wife of one Aldobrandino Palermini, deserved for his praiseworthy fashions, to enjoy his desire. However, Fortune, the enemy of the happy, denied him this solace, for that, whatever might have been the cause, the lady, after complying awhile with Tedaldo's wishes, suddenly altogether withdrew her good graces from him and not only refused to hearken to any message of his, but would on no wise see him; wherefore he fell into a dire and cruel melancholy; but his love for her had been so hidden that none guessed it to be the cause of his chagrin. After he had in divers ways studied amain to recover the love himseemed he had lost without his fault and finding all his labour vain, he resolved to withdraw from the world, that he might not afford her who was the cause of his ill the pleasure of seeing him pine away; wherefore, without saying aught to friend or kinsman, save to a comrade of his, who knew all, he took such monies as he might avail to have and departing secretly, came to Ancona, where, under the name of Filippo di Sanlodeccio, he made acquaintance with a rich merchant and taking service with him, accompanied him to Cyprus on board a ship of his.

His manners and behaviour so pleased the merchant that he not only assigned him a good wage, but made him in part his associate and put into his hands a great part of his affairs, which he ordered so well and so diligently that in a few years he himself became a rich and famous and considerable merchant; and albeit, in the midst of these his dealings, he oft remembered him of his cruel mistress and was grievously tormented of love and yearned sore to look on her again, such was his constancy that seven years long he got the better of the battle. But, chancing one day to hear sing in Cyprus a song that himself had made aforetime and wherein was recounted the love he bore his mistress and she him and the pleasure he had of her, and thinking it could not be she had forgotten him, he flamed up into such a passion of desire to see her again that, unable to endure longer, he resolved to return to Florence.

Accordingly, having set all his affairs in order, he betook himself with one only servant to Ancona and transporting all his good thither, despatched it to Florence to a friend of the Anconese his partner, whilst he himself, in the disguise of a pilgrim returning from the Holy Sepulchre, followed secretly after with his servant and coming to Florence, put up at a little hostelry kept by two brothers, in the neighbourhood of his mistress's house, whereto he repaired first of all, to see her, an he might. However, he found the windows and doors and all else closed, wherefore his heart misgave him she was dead or had removed thence and he betook himself, in great concern, to the house of his brethren, before which he saw four of the latter clad all in black. At this he marvelled exceedingly and knowing himself so changed both in habit and person from that which he was used to be, whenas he departed thence, that he might not lightly be recognized, he boldly accosted a cordwainer hard by and asked him why they were clad in black; whereto he answered, 'Yonder men are clad in black for that it is not yet a fortnight since a brother of theirs, who had not been here this great while, was murdered, and I understand they have proved to the court that one Aldobrandino Palermini, who is in prison, slew him, for that he was a well-wisher of his wife and had returned hither unknown to be with her.'

Tedaldo marvelled exceedingly that any one should so resemble him as to be taken for him and was grieved for Aldobrandino's ill fortune. Then, having learned that the lady was alive and well and it being now night, he returned, full of various thoughts, to the inn and having supped with his servant, was put to sleep well nigh at the top of the house. There, what with the many thoughts that stirred him and the badness of the bed and peradventure also by reason of the supper, which had been meagre, half the night passed whilst he had not yet been able to fall asleep; wherefore, being awake, himseemed about midnight he heard folk come down into the house from the roof, and after through the chinks of the chamber-door he saw a light come up thither. Thereupon he stole softly to the door and putting his eye to the chink, fell a-spying what this might mean and saw a comely enough lass who held the light, whilst three men, who had come down from the roof, made towards her; and after some greetings had passed between them, one of them said to the girl, 'Henceforth, praised be God, we may abide secure, since we know now for certain that the death of Tedaldo Elisei hath been proved by his brethren against Aldobrandino Palermini, who hath confessed thereto, and judgment is now recorded; nevertheless, it behoveth to keep strict silence, for that, should it ever become known that it was we [who slew him], we shall be in the same danger as is Aldobrandino.' Having thus bespoken the woman, who showed herself much rejoiced thereat, they left her and going below, betook themselves to bed.

Tedaldo, hearing this, fell a-considering how many and how great are the errors which may befall the minds of men, bethinking him first of his brothers who had bewept and buried a stranger in his stead and after of the innocent man accused on false suspicion and brought by untrue witness to the point of death, no less than of the blind severity of laws and rulers, who ofttimes, under cover of diligent investigation of the truth, cause, by their cruelties, prove that which is false and style themselves ministers of justice and of God, whereas indeed they are executors of iniquity and of the devil; after which he turned his thought to the deliverance of Aldobrandino and determined in himself what he should do. Accordingly, arising in the morning, he left his servant at the inn and betook himself alone, whenas it seemed to him time, to the house of his mistress, where, chancing to find the door open, he entered in and saw the lady seated, all full of tears and bitterness of soul, in a little ground floor room that was there.

At this sight he was like to weep for compassion of her and drawing near to her, said, 'Madam, afflict not yourself; your peace is at hand.' The lady, hearing this, lifted her eyes and said, weeping, 'Good man, thou seemest to me a stranger pilgrim; what knowest thou of my peace or of my affliction?' 'Madam,' answered Tedaldo, 'I am of Constantinople and am but now come hither, being sent of God to turn your tears into laughter and to deliver your husband from death.' Quoth she, 'An thou be of Constantinople and newly come hither, how knowest thou who I am or who is my husband?' Thereupon, the pilgrim beginning from the beginning, recounted to her the whole history of Aldobrandino's troubles and told her who she was and how long she had been married and other things which he very well knew of her affairs; whereat she marvelled exceedingly and holding him for a prophet, fell on her knees at his feet, beseeching him for God's sake, an he were come for Aldobrandino's salvation, to despatch, for that the time was short.

The pilgrim, feigning himself a very holy man, said, 'Madam, arise and weep not, but hearken well to that which I shall say to you and take good care never to tell it to any. According to that which God hath revealed unto me, the tribulation wherein you now are hath betided you because of a sin committed by you aforetime, which God the Lord hath chosen in part to purge with this present annoy and will have altogether amended of you; else will you fall into far greater affliction.' 'Sir,' answered the lady, 'I have many sins and know not which one, more than another, God the Lord would have me amend; wherefore, an you know it, tell me and I will do what I may to amend it.' 'Madam,' rejoined the pilgrim, 'I know well enough what it is, nor do I question you thereof the better to know it, but to the intent that, telling it yourself, you may have the more remorse thereof. But let us come to the fact; tell me, do you remember, ever to have had a lover?'

The lady, hearing this, heaved a deep sigh and marvelled sore, supposing none had ever known it, albeit, in the days when he was slain who had been buried for Tedaldo, there had been some whispering thereof, for certain words not very discreetly used by Tedaldo's confidant, who knew it; then answered, 'I see that God discovereth unto you all men's secrets, wherefore I am resolved not to hide mine own from you. True it is that in my youth I loved over all the ill-fortuned youth whose death is laid to my husband's charge, which death I have bewept as sore as it was grievous to me, for that, albeit I showed myself harsh and cruel to him before his departure, yet neither his long absence nor his unhappy death hath availed to tear him from my heart.' Quoth the pilgrim, 'The hapless youth who is dead you never loved, but Tedaldo Elisei ay.[176] But tell me, what was the occasion of your falling out with him? Did he ever give you any offence?' 'Certes, no,' replied she; 'he never offended against me; the cause of the breach was the prate of an accursed friar, to whom I once confessed me and who, when I told him of the love I bore Tedaldo and the privacy I had with him, made such a racket about my ears that I tremble yet to think of it, telling me that, an I desisted not therefrom, I should go in the devil's mouth to the deepest deep of hell and there be cast into everlasting fire; whereupon there entered into me such a fear that I altogether determined to forswear all further converse with him, and that I might have no occasion therefor, I would no longer receive his letters or messages; albeit I believe, had he persevered awhile, instead of getting him gone (as I presume) in despair, that, seeing him, as I did, waste away like snow in the sun, my harsh resolve would have yielded, for that I had no greater desire in the world.'

'Madam,' rejoined the pilgrim, 'it is this sin alone that now afflicteth you. I know for certain that Tedaldo did you no manner of violence; whenas you fell in love with him, you did it of your own free will, for that he pleased you; and as you yourself would have it, he came to you and enjoyed your privacy, wherein both with words and deeds you showed him such complaisance that, if he loved you before, you caused his love redouble a thousandfold. And this being so (as I know it was) what cause should have availed to move you so harshly to withdraw yourself from him? These things should be pondered awhile beforehand and if you think you may presently have cause to repent thereof, as of ill doing, you ought not to do them. You might, at your pleasure, have ordained of him, as of that which belonged to you, that he should no longer be yours; but to go about to deprive him of yourself, you who were his, was a theft and an unseemly thing, whenas it was not his will. Now you must know that I am a friar and am therefore well acquainted with all their usances; and if I speak somewhat at large of them for your profit, it is not forbidden me, as it were to another; nay, and it pleaseth me to speak of them, so you may henceforward know them better than you appear to have done in the past.

Friars of old were very pious and worthy men, but those who nowadays style themselves friars and would be held such have nothing of the monk but the gown; nor is this latter even that of a true friar, for that,—whereas of the founders of the monastic orders they[177] were ordained strait and poor and of coarse stuff and demonstrative[178] of the spirit of the wearers, who testified that they held things temporal in contempt whenas they wrapped their bodies in so mean a habit,—those of our time have them made full and double and glossy and of the finest cloth and have brought them to a quaint pontifical cut, insomuch that they think it no shame to flaunt it withal peacock-wise, in the churches and public places, even as do the laity with their apparel; and like as with the sweep-net the fisher goeth about to take many fishes in the river at one cast, even so these, wrapping themselves about with the amplest of skirts, study to entangle therein great store of prudish maids and widows and many other silly women and men, and this is their chief concern over any other exercise; wherefore, to speak more plainly, they have not the friar's gown, but only the colours thereof.

Moreover, whereas the ancients[179] desired the salvation of mankind, those of our day covet women and riches and turn their every thought to terrifying the minds of the foolish with clamours and depicturements[180] and to making believe that sins may be purged with almsdeeds and masses, to the intent that unto themselves (who, of poltroonery, not of devoutness, and that they may not suffer fatigue,[181] have, as a last resort, turned friars) one may bring bread, another send wine and a third give them a dole of money for the souls of their departed friends. Certes, it is true that almsdeeds and prayers purge away sins; but, if those who give alms knew on what manner folks they bestow them, they would or keep them for themselves or cast them before as many hogs. And for that these[182] know that, the fewer the possessors of a great treasure, the more they live at ease, every one of them studieth with clamours and bugbears to detach others from that whereof he would fain abide sole possessor. They decry lust in men, in order that, they who are chidden desisting from women, the latter may be left to the chiders; they condemn usury and unjust gains, to the intent that, it being entrusted to them to make restitution thereof, they may, with that which they declare must bring to perdition him who hath it, make wide their gowns and purchase bishopricks and other great benefices.

And when they are taken to task of these and many other unseemly things that they do, they think that to answer, "Do as we say and not as we do," is a sufficient discharge of every grave burden, as if it were possible for the sheep to be more constant and stouter to resist temptation[183] than the shepherds. And how many there be of those to whom they make such a reply who apprehend it not after the fashion[184] in which they say it, the most part of them know. The monks of our day would have you do as they say, to wit, fill their purses with money, trust your secrets to them, observe chastity, practise patience and forgiveness of injuries and keep yourselves from evil speaking,—all things good, seemly and righteous; but why would they have this? So they may do that, which if the laity did, themselves could not do. Who knoweth not that without money idleness may not endure? An thou expend thy monies in thy pleasures, the friar will not be able to idle it in the monastery; an thou follow after women, there will be no room for him, and except thou be patient or a forgiver of injuries, he will not dare to come to thy house to corrupt thy family. But why should I hark back after every particular? They condemn themselves in the eyes of the understanding as often as they make this excuse. An they believe not themselves able to abstain and lead a devout life, why do they not rather abide at home? Or, if they will e'en give themselves unto this,[185] why do they not ensue that other holy saying of the Gospel, "Christ began to do and to teach?"[186] Let them first do and after teach others. I have in my time seen a thousand of them wooers, lovers and haunters, not of lay women alone, but of nuns; ay, and of those that make the greatest outcry in the pulpit. Shall we, then, follow after these who are thus fashioned? Whoso doth it doth that which he will, but God knoweth if he do wisely.

But, granted even we are to allow that which the friar who chid you said to you, to wit, that it is a grievous sin to break the marriage vow, is it not a far greater sin to rob a man and a greater yet to slay him or drive him into exile, to wander miserably about the world? Every one must allow this. For a woman to have converse with a man is a sin of nature; but to rob him or slay him or drive him into exile proceedeth from malignity of mind. That you robbed Tedaldo I have already shown you, in despoiling him of yourself, who had become his of your spontaneous will, and I say also that, so far as in you lay, you slew him, for that it was none of your fault,—showing yourself, as you did, hourly more cruel,—that he slew not himself with his own hand; and the law willeth that whoso is the cause of the ill that is done be held alike guilty with him who doth it. And that you were the cause of his exile and of his going wandering seven years about the world cannot be denied. So that in whichever one of these three things aforesaid you have committed a far greater sin than in your converse with him.

But, let us see; maybe Tedaldo deserved this usage? Certes, he did not; you yourself have already confessed it, more by token that I know he loveth[187] you more than himself. No woman was ever so honoured, so exalted, so magnified over every other of her sex as were you by him, whenas he found himself where he might fairly speak of you, without engendering suspicion. His every good, his every honour, his every liberty were all committed by him into your hands. Was he not noble and young? Was he not handsome among all his townsmen? Was he not accomplished in such things as pertain unto young men? Was he not loved, cherished and well seen of every one? You will not say nay to this either. Then how, at the bidding of a scurvy, envious numskull of a friar, could you take such a cruel resolve against him? I know not what error is that of women who eschew men and hold them in little esteem, whenas, considering what themselves are and what and how great is the nobility, beyond every other animal, given of God to man, they should rather glory whenas they are loved of any and prize him over all and study with all diligence to please him, so he may never desist from loving them. This how you did, moved by the prate of a friar, who must for certain have been some broth-swilling pasty-gorger, you yourself know; and most like he had a mind to put himself in the place whence he studied to expel others.

This, then, is the sin that Divine justice, the which with a just balance bringeth all its operations to effect, hath willed not to leave unpunished; and even as you without reason studied to withdraw yourself from Tedaldo, so on like wise hath your husband been and is yet, without reason, in peril for Tedaldo, and you in tribulation. Wherefrom an you would be delivered, that which it behoveth you to promise, and yet more to do, is this; that, should it ever chance that Tedaldo return hither from his long banishment, you will render him again your favour, your love, your goodwill and your privacy and reinstate him in that condition wherein he was, ere you foolishly hearkened to yonder crack-brained friar.'

The pilgrim having thus made an end of his discourse, the lady, who had hearkened thereto with the utmost attention, for that his arguments appeared to her most true and that, hearing him say, she accounted herself of a certainty afflicted for the sin of which he spoke, said, 'Friend of God, I know full well that the things you allege are true, and in great part by your showing do I perceive what manner of folk are these friars, whom till now I have held all saints. Moreover, I acknowledge my default without doubt to have been great in that which I wrought against Tedaldo; and an I might, I would gladly amend it on such wise as you have said; but how may this be done? Tedaldo can never more return hither; he is dead; wherefore I know not why it should behove me promise that which may not be performed.' 'Madam,' replied the pilgrim, 'according to that which God hath revealed unto me, Tedaldo is nowise dead, but alive and well and in good case, so but he had your favour.' Quoth the lady, 'Look what you say; I saw him dead before my door of several knife-thrusts and had him in these arms and bathed his dead face with many tears, the which it may be gave occasion for that which hath been spoken thereof unseemly.' 'Madam,' replied the pilgrim, 'whatever you may say, I certify you that Tedaldo is alive, and if you will e'en promise me that [which I ask,] with intent to fulfil your promise, I hope you shall soon see him.' Quoth she, 'That do I promise and will gladly perform; nor could aught betide that would afford me such content as to see my husband free and unharmed and Tedaldo alive.'

Thereupon it seemed to Tedaldo time to discover himself and to comfort the lady with more certain hope of her husband, and accordingly he said, 'Madam, in order that I may comfort you for your husband, it behoveth me reveal to you a secret, which look you discover not unto any, as you value your life.' Now they were in a very retired place and alone, the lady having conceived the utmost confidence of the sanctity which herseemed was in the pilgrim; wherefore Tedaldo, pulling out a ring, which she had given him the last night he had been with her and which he had kept with the utmost diligence, and showing it to her, said, 'Madam, know you this?' As soon as she saw it, she recognized it and answered, 'Ay, sir; I gave it to Tedaldo aforetime.' Whereupon the pilgrim, rising to his feet, hastily cast off his palmer's gown and hat and speaking Florence-fashion, said, 'And know you me?'

When the lady saw this, she knew him to be Tedaldo and was all aghast, fearing him as one feareth the dead, an they be seen after death to go as if alive; wherefore she made not towards him to welcome him as Tedaldo returned from Cyprus, but would have fled from him in affright, as he were Tedaldo come back from the tomb. Whereupon, 'Madam,' quoth he, 'fear not; I am your Tedaldo, alive and well, and have never died nor been slain, whatsoever you and my brothers may believe.' The lady, somewhat reassured and knowing his voice, considered him awhile longer and avouched in herself that he was certainly Tedaldo; wherefore she threw herself, weeping, on his neck and kissed him, saying, 'Welcome back, sweet my Tedaldo.'

Tedaldo, having kissed and embraced her, said, 'Madam, it is no time now for closer greetings; I must e'en go take order that Aldobrandino may be restored to you safe and sound; whereof I hope that, ere to-morrow come eventide, you shall hear news that will please you; nay, if, as I expect, I have good news of his safety, I trust this night to be able to come to you and report them to you at more leisure than I can at this present.' Then, donning his gown and hat again, he kissed the lady once more and bidding her be of good hope, took leave of her and repaired whereas Aldobrandino lay in prison, occupied more with fear of imminent death than with hopes of deliverance to come. Tedaldo, with the gaoler's consent, went in to him, in the guise of a ghostly comforter, and seating himself by his side, said to him, 'Aldobrandino, I am a friend of thine, sent thee for thy deliverance by God, who hath taken pity on thee because of thine innocence; wherefore, if, in reverence to Him, thou wilt grant me a little boon that I shall ask of thee, thou shalt without fail, ere to-morrow be night, whereas thou lookest for sentence of death, hear that of thine acquittance.'

'Honest man,' replied the prisoner, 'since thou art solicitous of my deliverance, albeit I know thee not nor mind me ever to have seen thee, needs must thou be a friend, as thou sayst. In truth, the sin, for which they say I am to be doomed to death, I never committed; though others enough have I committed aforetime, which, it may be, have brought me to this pass. But this I say to thee, of reverence to God; an He presently have compassion on me, I will not only promise, but gladly do any thing, however great, to say nothing of a little one; wherefore ask that which pleaseth thee, for without fail, if it come to pass that I escape with life, I will punctually perform it.' Then said the pilgrim, 'What I would have of thee is that thou pardon Tedaldo's four brothers the having brought thee to this pass, believing thee guilty of their brother's death, and have them again for brethren and for friends, whenas they crave thee pardon thereof.' Whereto quoth Aldobrandino, 'None knoweth but he who hath suffered the affront how sweet a thing is vengeance and with what ardour it is desired; nevertheless, so God may apply Himself to my deliverance, I will freely pardon them; nay, I pardon them now, and if I come off hence alive and escape, I will in this hold such course as shall be to thy liking.'

This pleased the pilgrim and without concerning himself to say more to him, he exhorted him to be of good heart, for that, ere the ensuing day came to an end, he should without fail hear very certain news of his safety. Then, taking leave of him, he repaired to the Seignory and said privily to a gentleman who was in session there, 'My lord, every one should gladly labour to bring to light the truth of things, and especially those who hold such a room as this of yours, to the end that those may not suffer the penalty who have not committed the crime and that the guilty may be punished; that which may be brought about, to your honour and the bane of those who have merited it, I am come hither to you. As you know, you have rigorously proceeded against Aldobrandino Palermini and thinking you have found for truth that it was he who slew Tedaldo Elisei, are minded to condemn him; but this is most certainly false, as I doubt not to show you, ere midnight betide, by giving into your hands the murderers of the young man in question.'

The worthy gentleman, who was in concern for Aldobrandino, willingly gave ear to the pilgrim's words and having conferred at large with him upon the matter, on his information, took the two innkeeper brothers and their servant, without resistance, in their first sleep. He would have put them to the question, to discover how the case stood; but they brooked it not and each first for himself, and after all together, openly confessed that it was they who had slain Tedaldo Elisei, knowing him not. Being questioned of the case, they said [that it was] for that he had given the wife of one of them sore annoy, what while they were abroad, and would fain have enforced her to do his will.

The pilgrim, having heard this, with the magistrate's consent took his leave and repairing privily to the house of Madam Ermellina, found her alone and awaiting him, (all else in the house being gone to sleep,) alike desirous of having good news of her husband and of fully reconciling herself with her Tedaldo. He accosted her with a joyful countenance and said, 'Dearest lady mine, be of good cheer, for to-morrow thou shalt certainly have thine Aldobrandino here again safe and sound'; and to give her more entire assurance thereof, he fully recounted to her that which he had done. Whereupon she, glad as ever woman was of two so sudden and so happy chances, to wit, the having her lover alive again, whom she verily believed to have bewept dead, and the seeing Aldobrandino free from peril, whose death she looked ere many days to have to mourn, affectionately embraced and kissed Tedaldo; then, getting them to bed together, with one accord they made a glad and gracious peace, taking delight and joyance one of the other. Whenas the day drew near, Tedaldo arose, after showing the lady that which he purposed to do and praying her anew to keep it a close secret, and went forth, even in his pilgrim's habit, to attend, whenas it should be time, to Aldobrandino's affairs. The day come, it appearing to the Seignory that they had full information of the matter, they straightway discharged Aldobrandino and a few days after let strike off the murderers' heads whereas they had committed the crime.

Aldobrandino being now, to the great joy of himself and his wife and of all his friends and kinsfolk, free and manifestly acknowledging that he owed his deliverance to the good offices of the pilgrim, carried the latter to his house for such time as it pleased him to sojourn in the city; and there they could not sate themselves of doing him honour and worship, especially the lady, who knew with whom she had to do. After awhile, deeming it time to bring his brothers to an accord with Aldobrandino and knowing that they were not only put to shame by the latter's acquittance, but went armed for fear [of his resentment,] he demanded of his host the fulfilment of his promise. Aldobrandino freely answered that he was ready, whereupon the pilgrim caused him prepare against the morrow a goodly banquet, whereat he told him he would have him and his kinsmen and kinswomen entertain the four brothers and their ladies, adding that he himself would go incontinent and bid the latter on his part to peace and his banquet. Aldobrandino consenting to all that liked the pilgrim, the latter forthright betook himself to the four brothers and plying them with store of such words as behoved unto the matter, in fine, with irrepugnable arguments, brought them easily enough to consent to regain Aldobrandino's friendship by asking pardon; which done, he invited them and their ladies to dinner with Aldobrandino next morning, and they, being certified of his good faith, frankly accepted the invitation.

Accordingly, on the morrow, towards dinner-time, Tedaldo's four brothers, clad all in black as they were, came, with sundry of their friends, to the house of Aldobrandino, who stayed for them, and there, in the presence of all who had been bidden of him to bear them company, cast down their arms and committed themselves to his mercy, craving forgiveness of that which they had wrought against him. Aldobrandino, weeping, received them affectionately, and kissing them all on the mouth, despatched the matter in a few words, remitting unto them every injury received. After them came their wives and sisters, clad all in sad-coloured raiment, and were graciously received by Madam Ermellina and the other ladies. Then were all, ladies and men alike, magnificently entertained at the banquet, nor was there aught in the entertainment other than commendable, except it were the taciturnity occasioned by the yet fresh sorrow expressed in the sombre raiment of Tedaldo's kinsfolk. Now on this account the pilgrim's device of the banquet had been blamed of some and he had observed it; wherefore, the time being come to do away with the constraint aforesaid, he rose to his feet, according as he had foreordained in himself, what while the rest still ate of the fruits, and said, 'Nothing hath lacked to this entertainment that should make it joyful, save only Tedaldo himself; whom (since having had him continually with you, you have not known him) I will e'en discover to you.'

So saying, he cast off his palmer's gown and all other his pilgrim's weeds and abiding in a jerkin of green sendal, was with no little amazement, long eyed and considered of all, ere any would venture to believe it was indeed he. Tedaldo, seeing this, recounted many particulars of the relations and things betided between them, as well as of his own adventures; whereupon his brethren and the other gentlemen present ran all to embrace him, with eyes full of joyful tears, as after did the ladies on like wise, as well strangers as kinswomen, except only Madam Ermellina. Which Aldobrandino seeing, 'What is this, Ermellina?' quoth he. 'Why dost thou not welcome Tedaldo, as do the other ladies?' Whereto she answered, in the hearing of all, 'There is none who had more gladly welcomed and would yet welcome him than myself, who am more beholden to him than any other woman, seeing that by his means I have gotten thee again; but the unseemly words spoken in the days when we mourned him whom we deemed Tedaldo made me refrain therefrom.' Quoth her husband, 'Go to; thinkest thou I believe in the howlers?[188] He hath right well shown their prate to be false by procuring my deliverance; more by token that I never believed it. Quick, rise and go and embrace him.'

The lady, who desired nothing better, was not slow to obey her husband in this and accordingly, arising, embraced Tedaldo, as the other ladies had done, and gave him joyous welcome. This liberality of Aldobrandino was mighty pleasing to Tedaldo's brothers and to every man and woman there, and thereby all suspect[189] that had been aroused in the minds of some by the words aforesaid was done away. Then, every one having given Tedaldo joy, he with his own hands rent the black clothes on his brothers' backs and the sad-coloured on those of his sisters and kinswomen and would have them send after other apparel, which whenas they had donned, they gave themselves to singing and dancing and other diversions galore; wherefore the banquet, which had had a silent beginning had a loud-resounding ending. Thereafter, with the utmost mirth, they one and all repaired, even as they were, to Tedaldo's house, where they supped that night, and on this wise they continued to feast several days longer.

The Florentines awhile regarded Tedaldo with amazement, as a man risen from the dead; nay, in many an one's mind, and even in that of his brethren, there abode a certain faint doubt an he were indeed himself and they did not yet thoroughly believe it, nor belike had they believed it for a long time to come but for a chance which made them clear who the murdered man was which was on this wise. There passed one day before their house certain footmen[190] of Lunigiana, who, seeing Tedaldo, made towards him and said, 'Give you good day, Faziuolo.' Whereto Tedaldo in his brothers' presence answered, 'You mistake me.' The others, hearing him speak, were abashed and cried him pardon, saying, 'Forsooth you resemble, more than ever we saw one man favour another, a comrade of ours called Faziuolo of Pontremoli, who came hither some fortnight or more agone, nor could we ever since learn what is come of him. Indeed, we marvelled at the dress, for that he was a soldier, even as we are.' Tedaldo's elder brother, hearing this, came forward and enquired how this Faziuolo had been clad. They told him and it was found to have been punctually as they said; wherefore, what with these and what with other tokens, it was known for certain that he who had been slain was Faziuolo and not Tedaldo, and all doubt of the latter[191] accordingly departed [the minds of] his brothers and of every other. Tedaldo, then, being returned very rich, persevered in his love and the lady falling out with him no more, they long, discreetly dealing, had enjoyment of their love. God grant us to enjoy ours!"

Footnotes

[176] i.e. It was not the dead man, but Tedaldo Elisei whom you loved. (Lo sventurato giovane che fu morto non amasti voi mai, ma Tedaldo Elisei si.)

[177] i.e. friars' gowns. Boccaccio constantly uses this irregular form of enallage, especially in dialogue.

[178] Or, as we should nowadays say, "typical."

[179] i.e. the founders of the monastic orders.

[180] Lit. pictures, paintings (dipinture), but evidently here used in a tropical sense, Boccaccio's apparent meaning being that the hypocritical friars used to terrify their devotees by picturing to them, in vivid colours, the horrors of the punishment reserved for sinners.

[181] i.e. may not have to labour for their living.

[182] i.e. the false friars.

[183] Lit. more of iron (più di ferro).

[184] Sic (per lo modo); but quære not rather "in the sense."

[185] i.e. if they must enter upon this way of life, to wit, that of the friar.

[186] The reference is apparently to the opening verse of the Acts of the Apostles, where Luke says, "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began to do and to teach." It need hardly be remarked that the passage in question does not bear the interpretation Boccaccio would put upon it.

[187] Sic; but the past tense "loved" is probably intended, as the pretended pilgrim had not yet discovered Tedaldo to be alive.

[188] Lit. barkers (abbajatori), i.e. slanderers.

[189] Lit. despite, rancour (rugginuzza), but the phrase appears to refer to the suspicions excited by the whispers that had been current, as above mentioned, of the connection between Ermellina and Tedaldo.

[190] i.e. foot-soldiers.

[191] i.e. of his identity.
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Decameron (Day The Twenty Ninth) Lyrics

Giovanni Boccaccio – Decameron (Day The Twenty Ninth) Lyrics